Why Intel Wants a Piece of Mapping App HERE

January 3, 2017, 6:45 PM UTC
A Garmin GPS device displays Navteq software at a Best Buy s
A Garmin GPS device displays Navteq software at a Best Buy store in Watertown, Massachusetts, on Monday, Oct. 1, 2007. Nokia Oyj, the world's biggest mobile-phone company, agreed to buy Navteq Corp. for $8.1billion to gain digital maps of 69 countries and compete with TomTom NV in the market for navigation devices.
Photograph by Michael Fein—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Intel bought 15% of digital mapping service HERE on Tuesday as the chipmaker wades further into the market for self-driving cars and other autonomous devices.

Intel joins HERE’s current owners—carmakers Audi, BMW, and Daimler—in their efforts to build a vast global map and location database that doesn’t rely on information from Apple (AAPL) or Google. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has targeted making chips and sensors for self-driving cars, automated robots, and AI-enhanced drones as one of the company’s new growth market.

The carmakers bought HERE from Nokia in 2015 for $3 billion. Intel (INTC) declined to disclose how much it paid for its 15% stake.

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“Cars are rapidly becoming some of the world’s most intelligent, connected devices,” Krzanich said in a statement. “We look forward to working with HERE and its automotive partners to deliver an important technology foundation for smart and connected cars of the future.”

Intel’s aim is to help the car makers create much more robust and detailed mapping hardware and software that will be needed for truly autonomous vehicles. HERE’s next generation mapping applications will be able to pinpoint a car’s location within centimeters, down from exactness in meters today, the company says. HERE’s current product offerings run the gamut from a consumer-oriented smartphone app called HERE WeGo to live traffic data that can be licensed and fed into car navigation systems, all built on top of its ecosystem of mapping data and related software tools.

The head of Intel’s automated driving group, Doug Davis, will join HERE’s supervisory board after the transaction is completed. The deal is expected to close before the end of the first quarter.

Google (GOOGL) has long dominated the market for digitally usable map and location data for portable devices, after it spent billions building its data sets. Apple had to play catch up after it created its own smartphone map app in 2012, relying on licensing data from Dutch provider TomTom.

But HERE started mapping the world three decades ago and built a strong position in the automotive market long before smartphones came along. Nokia (NOK) bought the company, then known as Navteq, for $8 billion in 2007.

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